Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ned's On The Rio Grande, Albuquerque, NM

It's not really a photo op venue, I think it's more "a place filled with characters" than a place with character, but what can you say about a place where the environment makes everyone feel welcome and you can get $2 tacos and enchiladas on Tuesdays? I guess you could add that drinks are $2 on Tuesdays too, for those that are interested. ;)

And interesting it was. Tonight I joined friends for Two Buck Night at Ned's. We met right after work and were home before 8 PM and paid for our dinners with (basically) pocket change. My chicken tacos were delicious and the enchiladas have been rated in Albuquerque Magazine as the "Best Tuesday Enchiladas" in the city.

You just can't beat that. Ned's is a winner - literally. Voted BEST DIVE, BEST SANDWICHES and BEST HAPPY HOUR, along with the BEST TUESDAY ENCHILADAS, Ned's is a happening place.

Add an outdoor patio, spraying misters, a collection of folks from every walk of life, cheap drinks and a great staff, and you have yourself a mega-winner, an obvious fact when you pull into the full parking lot and walk by the long line of perfectly positioned Harley's (and etc.) that are parked along the length of the patio wall.

Becky was our waitress and I am not exaggerating when I say that she carried an order from an adjacent table in her head, while clutching 7 empty bottles which she had retrieved from that table AND made change for four checks at our table - right from her apron, all at the same time, without a pause and 100% in control. We gave her a great tip.

And here's a tip for you: Ned's on the Rio Grande. A great place on Tuesday night...and Monday, Thursday, Saturday....

You get the picture.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Liberty Gym, Albuquerque, NM

Oh my aching muscles! Many thanks to the folks at Liberty Gym for a warm, welcoming, what-did-I-get-myself-into workout. (Not to mention the thrill of being a 50+ out-of-shape woman huffing and puffing beside a trim blonde 20? year old).

Liberty Gym has a great facility and excellent, well-trained staff and I worked my a** off (one can only hope). I am working with Renee - The Joy of Fitness - a personal trainer who contracts with Liberty Gym. I not only like the facility, but I like the name. Liberty is part of who I am, what I work for, what I believe in. Physical fitness will allow me more liberty in my choices and my life and I am ready for that.

Who ever thought I would be looking foward to aching muscles and sweat-drenched workout clothes, but that's my reality. Freedom. Liberty. Aching muscles. But then again, freedom has never come easy.

I am glad I found Liberty Gym. I just wish they would take out all those mirrors....

The Cooperage, Albuquerque, NM

The Curio Cowboys, Albuquerque's Own Western Swing Band (nearly as large in number as a football team) rocked the house last night at The Cooperage in Albuquerque. A local favorite the toe-tapping group managed to keep us entertained until way past the normal Sunday night (day-before-back to-work-Monday) quitting time.

Once again, local folks, local entertainment and a local venue outdid my expectations. The service was great, the food was good and the evening was fun, although I was a late arrival after procrastinating for hours about leaving the comfort of my home in my flipflops, tshirt and old jeans.

The live music fills the barrel-themed restaurant (even the exterior looks like a huge barrel), so seating should depend on your taste and desire for live tunes.

The Cooperage is tauted as one of the best steakhouses in Albuquerque, and is also known for their prime rib and seafood. Since I arrived late, I ate light and enjoyed the soup and salad bar.

Looks like I need to make another visit to check out the beef and seafood, and Friday Salsa Nights (and I don't mean red or green)!

The enchantment continues...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Graham Central Station, Albuquerque, NM

I love train stations, they remind me of the summers of my youth when Mom, my sis and I would travel by rail from California (through Albuquerque!) to Illinois for our two week vacation with my grandparents. And as an adult I had a similar love affair with trains when I stood in the middle of New York's Grand Central Station for the first time and felt as if the world was literally rushing by me on all sides, going every which way in a hurry....but I digress.

Graham Central Station in Albuquerque is not a train station. It's a dance hall, and more. Self-promoted as "America's finest nightclub facility featuring multiple club and music formats!", GCS lives up to the marketing tagline. Karaoke in one corner, rock in another, a bachelorette party moving through all genres and rooms, and country western/swing in yet another corner.

I had never heard of Graham Central Station until last night, yet this is a chain of several "finest nightclubs", spread through Texas, New Mexico (Albuquerque and Las Cruces), Louisiana, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Arizona, with sister clubs in several other states as well.

I am a country western girl at heart, so my night at Graham Central Station was spent in the country western music/dance hall portion of the finest nightclub facility in America and it was knee slapping, toe tapping fun.

The music was nonstop and the dance floor was never empty. The crowd was a mix of young and old bootwearing folks who love to two-step. We were a sweaty but energized bunch. The swamp cooler was working overtime, but it was barely keeping up. But no matter how damp our cotton shirts were, nothing could dampen our spirits and it was a great night.

Now that I have danced, I want to take a train ride - maybe a ride on the Cumbres and Toltrec in Farmington. I think it would be good for my soul. I love the way a train feels, the cadence of its movement over steel tracks, the soothing sway of the railcars as they pull and tug against each other, the cool air that flows in through windows that slide down or vents that push air upward.

We had a two-stepping good time last night. Graham Central Station may not be a train station, but it was definitely good for my soul (and my calves).

I am in the Land of Enchantment and I am enchanted still.

ABQJOURNAL OPINION/EDITORIALS: Metro Court Rationale Victimizes the Victim

ABQJOURNAL OPINION/EDITORIALS: Metro Court Rationale Victimizes the Victim

Once at the ABQ Journal website, you will need to sign up for the one day only FREE trial session to view the linked article. Not sure why they offer to link to Blogger if you can't get to the article easily, but that's life in the world of instant media gratification, I suppose. Someone has to put a stop to the craziness!

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Double Whammy

The editorial in the Albuquerque Journal yesterday was spot on, I just hope someone was paying attention. (see article above this post)

All too often we hear about domestic violence and look to the abused as if asking, "Why didn't you stand up for yourself, where's your will to live?" Unfortunately, their will to live is buried beneath the physical and emotional scars of abuse - spousal, parental, partner abuse. Their will to live is exactly what made them NOT stand up for themselves. They knew that if they did, they might not live; they might not live one more day, or to raise their kids, or tell their story, or see their grandparents, or protect their siblings, or protect their children, or play at school or go to work (hiding bruises and cuts beneath clothing), or have the chance to stand up for themselves.

But even in a safer environment when the abuser is behind bars, it's tough for abused women and children (and abused men) to tell their story as it needs to be told, even to their nonabusive parent, or their best friend, or their siblings, let alone a judge, or a guy in a uniform, or a stranger in social worker clothing. In their damaged thought process, they honestly believe that keeping quiet is their last hope for survival, because they have been threatened with much worse than the abuse they have already endured if they tell anyone.

The reaction of the abused is confusing, if not unbelievable to most of us who have not suffered abuse from another. We don't get it. We can't understand how someone can lose their will-to-be in their fight-to-live, but they do. They become whatever they need to be, they endure whatever they need to and they don't tell a soul, all for one reason - to stay alive.

When the court system and government entities who are charged with the role of protection of citizens whose lives are endangered choose to rationalize their decisions on the trembling voice of the abused, they have failed in their role to protect the innocent and in so doing, they have become an enabler to the abuser.

We have buried common sense and protective logic beneath so many rules, regs and red tape, that something as simple as a judge's order indicating that something is "allowed" is passed through the system matter-of-factly.

It's no longer about abuse, it's no longer about protection, it's now routine. Process the form, unlock the cell door (hey bud, you got lucky!), lock the ankle bracelet (this won't really do anything, but we want you to wear it), wave goodbye (hope you get to see your kids while you are out, just don't go too far) and go back to whatever it was you were doing before the court papers arrived. Routine. Deadly. Avoidable.

I have great respect for Albuquerque's best, the APD, and I believe in the justice system. They are often as spot on as the Journal's editorial. The issue I am concerned about is the evolution of impersonal justice. Court orders or instructions that aren't thought through in relation to who they might affect. Interpretations that allow violent, threatening abusers to return to society and do more harm, instead of keeping them locked behind bars in an effort to protect the innocent and already abused. In this case, the system failed three young boys and their mother at every level. There was more concern for the rights of the abuser, than the abused. There was more focus given to allowing a dangerous man back into society then to why he should never be allowed to return. It is a tragedy that didn't need to happen. It shouldn't have been routine.

Shame on the system and shame on us.

We all need to pay better attention.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Identity Crises

If New Mexico's State Investment Officer Gary Bland can compare himself to Prometheus of Greek mythology, and South Carolina's Governor Mark Sanford considers himself a modern-day King David of the Bible, I can hardly wait to see who comes out as Gandhi.

Anyone care to make a prophecy?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Calico Cantina Cafe, Albuquerque, NM

CCC takes on an entirely new meaning at the Calico Cantina Cafe. This is not the place for motivated but unemployed young men to hang around hoping for work, this is a neighborhood haunt located on 4th Street in the North Valley. The "Cantina Cafe" is an appropriate name for this lovely restaurant and its outdoor patio, because it is both a cantina and a cafe.

Inside the cafe, couples and families (along with Albuquerque's finest - which is a good sign when you are looking for good food) were eating and conversing at cozy tables. Outside on the patio beneath huge umbrellas, folks were tapping their toes while drinking and eating to live music provided on this particular occasion by Chris Dracup and Tommy Elskes, two amazing musicians on guitar, vocals, and spoons (yes, spoons). They were fantastic, providing a rousing combination of blues, reggae and funk music. We are already planning another opportunity to hear these two talented men, maybe at the July 16th BioParkSummer Concert Series (yes, that's a shout out).

The service at Calico Cantina Cafe was great (Kevin was our waiter), the food was tasty, and the drinks were sometimes slow to arrive but worth waiting for. The crowd seemed to be a mixture of locals and blues fans. I was there with 4 girlfriends; we passed by the dessert case on our way to the patio and didn't even pause, but it was not easy. Everything in that case looked homemade-yummy. We will be going back again...soon.

The Cafe's food was tasty, the outdoor ambiance couldn't be beat, the music was A-list, the crowd was friendly, and the prices during Happy Hour were excellent; maybe this North Valley CCC isn't a bad place for the unemployed after all. And considering today's economy, having a CCC just around the corner could be a boon for all of us.

I was enchanted.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mannyc Depression

The Return of the Dreds was a flop. I suppose the rain is to blame. It can't be the leading man's fault, he didn't show.

Isotopes Park was packed. The starting line-up had been announced with Manny hitting first for the Isotopes. The tarp had been pulled back to uncover the field and it was finally time to play ball!

Until it started raining again, that is, and the tarp was pulled back over the field. The fans waited it out, sharing drinks and conversation, all huddled together beneath awnings and grandstands to stay dry. It was like an uber-campfire without the fire and marshmallows.

The rain stopped. The loudspeaker crackled as we were returning to our seats: Manny Ramirez couldn't play because of the rain - too much rain increases risk of injury, at least that was the excuse given to the sold out crowd of dred-topped fans.

Isotope Park was not resounding with the cheering of happy campers after that announcement. Even S'mores wouldn't have lifted our spirits. We went from overly-enthused to downright grumpy almost instantly. I mean really, rain is NOT going to hurt dreds. We didn't see the problem. We were going to sit in the rain. The Isotopes were going to play in the rain. Why couldn't Manny?

It reminded me of being a kid and knocking on the door of my best friend on a cold day. "No, hon, Ronda can't play today, it's just too wet out there." Well, duh, of course it was wet, it was raining; so what?

To be fair, I suppose I should acknowledge that my friend Ronda wasn't on a multi-million dollar contract where risk of injury from a fall in the rain is a financial liability, not just a bruised knee. Manny, on the other hand, does have a multi-million dollar contract to PLAY baseball and he was here in New Mexico (the PAY-TO-PLAY state for so many), it just seemed logical that he should have played, rain or shine.

People mumbled about heading home after learning that Manny wasn't going to play, but most of the crowd chose to stay and support the team. And in spite of the disappointment of not seeing Manny play, it was worth it for those who stayed. The Isotopes played well and once again proved they don't need dreds to please the hometown crowd.

I didn't stay until the end, and I wasn't one of the hundreds who bought a Dodger-scarf-dredset. In retrospect, I am not sure what all the hype was to begin with, Manny is not a role model, or a hero, and I've never really liked dreds, but he is an extraordinary hitter (when he plays). The game was called in the 6th inning because of the rain, but I wasn't there to see it. I had left at the bottom of the 4th, with the 'Topes up by 4.

It was just too wet out there.

The Return of the Dreds

It sounds like a sci-fi thriller, but in reality, The Return of the Dreds may be an action comedy. Tonight is the last Isotope's game with Manny Ramirez, the self-proclaimed baseball icon who is loved by people everywhere in spite of his violation of baseball's drug policies which relegated him from Dodger Stadium to Isotopes Park.

Tonight's Manny Maniacal game is going to be the game of games for many Isotopes fans. I know folks who have tickets, I know folks who want tickets, and I know folks who want to sell tickets.

In pro-Dodger Albuquerque, (yes, the Isotopes are the feeder team to the infamous Dodgers) tonight is a big night, and I (along with most of Q-town) don't plan to miss it. I will be standing somewhere in the stadium, listening to the cheers from the dred-adorned crowd and hoping for just one glimpse of Manny. Maybe he will even hit it out of the ballpark. Now THAT would be the return of the dreds.

As he said, people love him everywhere he goes, and those of us who live in the Q aren't much different. We even change our hairstyles to look like his. Who ever thought a redheaded grandma would wear dyed black dreds? Not me, that's for sure.

It really does promise to be an interesting evening. But considering the innate skills and natural ability of Manny, there's one question still in everyone's mind here in the Q: "Red or Green, Manny?"

Go 'Topes!

QT on the QT

Welcome to my new blog from the center of Q-Town. I'm keeping it on the QT for now. I want to see where it goes, but wherever that is, I hope you come along with me!

This is the Land of Enchantment, and I am ready to be enchanted...are you?!